NCYW Conference at Croydon High School
On the 12 March 2016, eight keen representatives from Northwood College’s National Council of Young Women society attended a conference hosted by Croydon High School in honour of International Women’s Day. This year’s theme surrounded rape and sexual violence and the tag-line of the conference was “Stop Rape, Educate”, which successfully encompassed the purpose and aim of the day.
As always, the conference opened with the Careers Prefect and NCYW Croydon leader introducing the speakers and giving an itinerary for the day. The afternoon involved three incredible advocates against sexual violence; two charity workers from Rape Crisis and Survivors UK and an activist from Women Against Rape, speaking to us about their work. The speakers educated us around the issues that both men and women face when dealing with sexual abuse, as well as the experiences and options of support that every victim is exposed to. As expected the statistics shocked us, especially the proportion of male victims – who are just as susceptible to the violence and grooming of sexual predators as women, but what further amazed us was the lack of development within the government and legislation preventing sexual abuse such as the fact that domestic and marital rape only became illegal just over twenty years ago.
We also had the opportunity to discuss points of curiosity such as why are the lines between consent so blurred, what role does ‘lad cultural’ play in the perpetration of rape and sexual violence, and what is rape. I felt that I entered the conference with strong and fixed views around the topic, but through deeper and better informed debate I felt my mind-set change – particularly towards ‘victim-blaming’.
Overall the conference was a great opportunity to better our understanding around such topical and important issues, but also to discuss and re-evaluate our own ethics around the subject. It seems that rape cultural and victim blaming is something that faces all young girls, whether directly or indirectly through the media or society, as so for me having the safe and open space to talk was almost quintessential to my growth as a student and young woman.